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Mon Nov 19, 2012, 07:23 PM

The Hollywood Reporter, After 65 Years, Addresses Role in Blacklist

Billy Wilkerson was nervous. it was July 1946, and The Hollywood Reporter owner, editor and publisher was preparing to embark on a landmark campaign that would expose communists working in Hollywood. He would name the alleged Reds in his "Tradeviews" column and expose this lurking menace.

Wilkerson already had begun his crusade a year or so earlier, penning fiery editorials that railed against communism and targeted the Screen Writers Guild, the WGA precursor that he believed was the seat of what he termed the "Red Beachhead." But this would be different. Wilkerson -- who was mustachioed, 5-foot-7 and had a penchant for pinstripe suits -- was going to brand people like Spartacus screenwriter Dalton Trumbo and Casablanca co-writer Howard Koch as leftists and communist sympathizers.

But the stakes were high. The possibility of a boycott of Wilkerson's trade newspaper, which he founded in 1930 and kept afloat through the Great Depression, loomed large. And there were moral considerations: He was, after all, going to damage hundreds of lives -- perhaps many more.

So Wilkerson turned to his religion. He went to confession.


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